Regulations to Protect the Environment

Governments and local authorities can introduce regulations to protect the environment, so that industry doesn’t harm people’s lives

Regulations are needed to prevent businesses from damaging the local environment: with polluting chemicals, by endangering wildlife habitats, by encroaching on protected countryside, or by adversely affecting residential neighbourhoods for example.  Regulations might be national (Federal) or localised at different levels of subsidiarity.  This is part of the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The UK’s Environment Act has set up an Office for Environmental Protection.

Regulations can be implemented by having some form of licensing for setting up a business, to allow checks to be made on its environmental impact, followed by periodic policing to ensure compliance.  Regulations are also needed for all new buildings and infrastructure projects, to ensure compliance with environmental aims.

Global initiatives on climate change ( have resulted in a system of national targets for carbon emissions and other measures.  Economic regulations to protect the environment are needed to achieve these targets.  The “six priority objectives” in the related European regulations are listed in its Environment policy:

●  Achieving the 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target and climate neutrality by 2050,

●  Enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change,

●  Advancing towards a regenerative growth model, decoupling economic growth from resource use and environmental degradation, and accelerating the transition to a circular economy [which considers manufacturing, use, and disposal in economic assessments],

●  Pursuing a zero-pollution ambition, including for air, water and soil and protecting the health and well-being of Europeans,

●  Protecting, preserving and restoring biodiversity, and enhancing natural capital (notably air, water, soil, and forest, freshwater, wetland and marine ecosystems),

●  Reducing environmental and climate pressures related to production and consumption (particularly in the areas of energy, industrial development, buildings and infrastructure, mobility and the food system).


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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/3315a.htm.